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Breaking Down Chargers Roster After the 2014 Draft

Marcelo VillaCorrespondent IIMay 13, 2014

Breaking Down Chargers Roster After the 2014 Draft

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The conclusion of the 2014 draft has San Diego Chargers fans wondering what the roster will look like now that a number of players have joined the ranks.

    Six draft choices and a plethora of undrafted free agents will try to crack the depth chart this upcoming season, but not everyone will make the cut. Coming off a postseason run, the Chargers need players who can return the team to the promised land in 2014.

    Here's a breakdown of the additions, departures and what the depth chart might look like following the draft.

Quarterback

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    Additions

    • Kellen Clemens

    Departures

    • Charlie Whitehurst

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Philip Rivers
    2. Kellen Clemens
    3. Brad Sorensen

    Quarterback will continue to remain a strength of this team with Rivers at the helm in his 11th season. During his comeback year in 2013, he completed a career-high 378 passes and threw for the fourth-most yards in the regular season (4,478) under first-year head coach Mike McCoy.

    Clemens will assume the role that Whitehurst left in the offseason, serving as a veteran backup to Rivers, and Sorensen will resume his development in Year 2 of his stay with the Chargers. The Southern Utah product had a strong preseason in his first year in the league and will look to pick up where he left off with more opportunities in training camp and the 2014 preseason.

Running Back

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    Additions

    • Donald Brown
    • Marion Grice
    • D.J. Adams
    • David Johnson (FB)
    • Zach Boren (FB)

    Departures

    • Le'Ron McClain
    • Ronnie Brown

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Ryan Mathews
    2. Danny Woodhead
    3. Donald Brown
    4. Marion Grice
    5. David Johnson (FB)

    San Diego's backfield will be loaded with depth in 2014. Fresh off a career-high 1,255 rushing yards last season, Mathews' biggest challenge will be staying healthy for 16 games. Injuries have overwhelmed the 26 year-old since he entered the league in 2010, and his absence from the field has squandered the offensive production from time to time.

    Woodhead had a career year in his first season with the Bolts, racking up more than 600 yards receiving and six touchdowns. His 76 receptions also ranked second on the team in 2013. Brown, who comes over from Indianapolis, was the Colts' leading rusher a year ago despite Trent Richardson getting the bulk of the carries.

    Arizona State's Grice rounds out the group. A Hornung Award finalist in 2013, he totaled 1,941 all-purpose yards and was the only player in the nation with at least 400 yards rushing, receiving and returning. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich will have his pick of a talented running back unit. Finding a suitable rotation will be his biggest concern. 

Wide Receiver

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    Additions

    • Torrence Allen
    • Brelan Chancellor
    • Micah Hatfield
    • Javontee Herndon
    • Dontrelle Inman
    • Tevin Reese

    Departures

    • Lavelle Hawkins

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Keenan Allen
    2. Malcom Floyd
    3. Eddie Royal
    4. Vincent Brown
    5. Tevin Reese
    6. Seyi Ajirotutu

    Allen fell just short of winning The Associated Press' Offensive Rookie of the Year Award (he did win the Pro Football Writers Association equivalent), but his future is still bright after he put together one of the greatest rookie performances in team history. His 1,046 receiving yards topped all rookies last season, and his eight touchdown receptions tied for first on the team. Having finished the year as San Diego's No. 1 receiver, he should be "the guy" heading into 2014.

    The only player who is capable of taking that spot from Allen is Floyd. Expected to resume his career following a season-ending neck injury in 2013, he has already started the path to a comeback, but his biggest test lies in training camp where he'll be susceptible to the same contact that nearly put an end to his career. If he does manage to complete his comeback, Rivers will have one of his favorite targets back on offense.

    Royal came on strong in his first two games of last season with five touchdown receptions, but from that point on he seemed to disappear every couple of games. He had a setback year after missing all of 2012, though many expected him to break out. He'll get another chance to work his way into the offense, but he wasted a golden opportunity last season when two of the team's top receivers went down with injuries.

    Reese, San Diego's seventh-round draft choice, was productive during his last three seasons at Baylor, and the home run play in the passing game seems to be his strong suit. He set an NCAA and Big 12 record with 21 career touchdowns of 40 yards or more. A nice mix of youth and experience should help this unit moving forward.

Tight End

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Additions

    • Ryan Otten
    • Michael Flacco

    Departures

    • None

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Antonio Gates
    2. Ladarius Green
    3. John Phillips

    Gates led San Diego in receiving last season with 77 catches, and his 872 yards receiving were the most he registered since 2009. At 33 years old and still going strong, he could potentially surpass 10,000 yards receiving in his career with another strong outing in 2014.

    Green took big strides in his second season, posting two back-to-back performances of 80 yards or more in Weeks 11 and 12. His development from a fourth-round draft pick in 2012 has come along quickly, but his best is yet to come this upcoming season. 

    Phillips, who was primarily used as a blocker last season, finished the year on injured reserve with a knee injury. If he can come back healthy, there should be a spot open for his ability at the line of scrimmage.

Offensive Line

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    Additions

    • Nick McDonald
    • Chris Watt
    • Jeremiah Sirles
    • Ian White 

    Departures

    • Steve Schilling

    Projected Depth Chart (from LT to RT)

    • King Dunlap
    • Chad Rinehart
    • Nick Hardwick
    • Jeromey Clary
    • D.J. Fluker
    • Johnnie Troutman
    • Rich Ohrnberger
    • Chris Watt

    The big guys up front made huge improvements from 2012 by only surrendering 30 sacks, but having everyone healthy at the same time proved to be a difficult task through 16 games. Shuffling players in and out of spots became a weekly recurrence, but 2014 will be a fresh start for this group.

    The same lineup from last season should start the year off, but right guard will be a spot to keep an eye on through training camp. Clary may own the job by experience, but Watt could be looking to take over his rookie year. The third-round pick out of Notre Dame locked down left guard the past two seasons for the Irish, but he'll need to make the move to right guard if he's interested in a starting job next season.

    Health will determine how this unit fares in 2014.

Defensive Line

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    Additions

    • Ryan Carrethers
    • Tenny Palepoi
    • Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe 

    Departures

    • Cam Thomas

    Projected Depth Chart (from LE to RE)

    1. Kendall Reyes
    2. Sean Lissemore
    3. Corey Liuget
    4. Lawrence Guy
    5. Ryan Carrethers
    6. Kwame Geathers

    Liuget and Reyes combined for 10.5 sacks and 76 tackles in 2013. Both have flourished early in their careers, developing into two of San Diego's brightest defensive stars. What's been missing is a defensive tackle to match them.

    The Chargers hope Lissemore can be that guy now that he'll have a full offseason with the team, but watch out for Carrethers this year. The fifth-round draft choice out of Arkansas State is the closest thing to a nose tackle San Diego has had in quite some time, and his large body is a perfect fit in the 3-4. The defensive line could be in for an improved year with all the pieces in place.

Linebackers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Additions

    • Kavell Conner
    • Cordarro Law
    • Jeremiah Attaochu
    • Colton Underwood
    • Alvin Scioneaux

    Departures

    • Bront Bird

    Projected Depth Chart (from LOLB to ROLB)

    1. Jarret Johnson
    2. Donald Butler
    3. Manti Te'o
    4. Dwight Freeney
    5. Melvin Ingram
    6. Reggie Walker
    7. Kavell Conner
    8. Jeremiah Attaochu
    9. Larry English

    The competition at this position will be fierce in training camp. Defensive coordinator John Pagano has immense depth at every spot in the linebacking corps, but it'll be up to him to put these guys in the best position to make plays and be effective. There won't be a set four every week but rather a mix of eight or nine players depending on how many the team opts to keep on the roster. 

    Last season's injuries gave meaning to the saying that you can never have too many pass-rushers, so it's probably best the Chargers stash away players on the practice squad if need be.

    At inside linebacker, it will be interesting to see how Te'o progresses in his second season and whether Butler can manage to stay healthy after missing three games in 2013. If that's the case, San Diego has a veteran in Conner, who made 104 tackles for the Colts in 2011. 

    All eyes will be on the team's second-round pick, however, as he prepares to add new life to the pass rush. Attaochu's 31.5 career sacks rank fifth all-time in the ACC and first at Georgia Tech. A high motor and explosive get-off make him an entertaining player to watch on defense.

Cornerback

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    Additions

    • Jason Verrett
    • Chris Davis
    • Greg Ducre
    • Brandon Ghee 

    Departures

    • Derek Cox
    • Johnny Patrick

    Projected Depth Chart

    1. Shareece Wright
    2. Jason Verrett
    3. Richard Marshall
    4. Steve Williams
    5. Brandon Ghee

    San Diego used the 25th pick in the draft to address its weak secondary by selecting TCU's Verrett. Short but quick, he combines feisty play and instincts to shut down receivers. Slot corner is probably the most assumed role for the rookie, but don't count him out in terms of working his way to the top of the depth chart in a hurry.

    Wright made improvements in his game last season, but he'll need to step it up if he plans on holding down the No. 1 corner spot. He had a career-high nine deflected passes in 2013, while Verrett led the nation with 38 passes defended in two seasons of work.

    Marshall, who was re-signed in the offseason, will provide veteran depth after filling in for Cox midseason in 2013. Ghee could fill out the roster if he can stay healthy, but it's possible that a sixth corner will join the squad if Davis or Ducre can emerge in training camp.

Safety

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    Additions

    • Alden Darby

    Departures

    • None

    Projected Depth Chart (from FS to SS)

    1. Eric Weddle
    2. Marcus Gilchrist
    3. Jahleel Addae
    4. Darrell Stuckey 

    The beard is back. Weddle's resurgence wasn't limited to the secondary last season. His successful fake-punt run in Week 16 against the Kansas City Chiefs was one of the big reasons the Chargers even made the playoffs in 2013. 

    Alongside Weddle was Gilchrist, the converted safety who played pretty well at his new position. He hammered out 77 tackles and made two picks last season after playing the previous two seasons at corner. The coaching staff believed he was the best player to fill that position last season, but Addae made a good run in 2013 that could draw some consideration. 

    The undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan made plays in a limited role in the secondary, but he put his best foot forward every down and on special teams. He and Stuckey served multiple roles and could do so again this season. Brandon Taylor, meanwhile, is on the bubble of making the roster.

    Two seasons have resulted in just six career tackles for the former third-round pick, as a season-ending knee injury in 2012 delayed his growth. The regime change has also affected his fit with the team.

    Pagano made good use of the top four last season. Will he do so again?

Special Teams

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    Additions

    • Chase Tenpenny

    Departures

    • None 

    Projected Depth Chart

    K: Nick Novak

    P: Mike Scifres

    LS: Mike Windt

    KR: Danny Woodhead/Marion Grice

    PR: Eddie Royal/Chris Davis

    The return game was inefficient at giving the offense good field position to work with last year. That will change, however, with Grice and Davis in the mix in 2014. Grice was one of the best in the nation in racking up kick-return yardage, and who could forget the punt returns that Davis had at Auburn?

    Youth on special teams will inject new life into the return game, allowing the offense to get that much closer to the end zone.

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